What should the NHL should do about the Coyotes?

Cleaning out my room today, I found this mutilated ticket stub from a while back.

It brought me back to my fandom of the Phoenix Coyotes that I had when I was younger. I don’t remember much about that game, but I do remember thinking I was the coolest kid on the planet wearing my Jeremy Roenick jersey around the Civic Arena, and how cool it was knowing that this was the NHL on Fox game of the week (believe it or not, teams from the Western Conference used to be shown on national TV). I used to love watching their playoff games on TV and seeing the American West Arena white-outs with no spots of black or powder blue (ahem Penguin “fans”). However a little more of a decade later, the team is bankrupt, playing in a half-filled arena most nights, and most likely on its way back to Winnipeg, the Canadian city where the team played from 1979-1996. Where did it go wrong?

When the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix for the 1996-1997 season, the city was very receptive of the team. They had winning seasons each of the first six years the team was in existence. The problem, however, was that the arena they played in, the American West Arena, wasn’t made for hockey. The building that was made for basketball featured tons of seats that were situated directly above the goals that the team couldn’t sell. After attempts to get the arena better built for hockey failed, the team was able to strike a deal to get the Jobing.com Arena built in Glendale, a suburb of the city.

When the team moved out, things went south for the Coyotes. They fell into a pattern of losing, and fans were less than receptive of going so far out of the city to catch games. Making matters worse, the ownership’s finances were shaky. Some more seasons of poor performance and attendance led the team to file bankruptcy, and the NHL seizing control of the team.

After their elimination in the playoffs in 2011, the rumors of the team heading out are louder than ever. Should they go back north of the border? The simple answer would be yes.

The Jets didn’t leave for Arizona because of a lack of fan support. Instead, the team was forced to skip town since they were playing in a dilapidated arena that was much too small for a professional team. They didn’t get any help from the government to fund a new arena, so the team was forced to head south. They should go back to where they would be appreciated and beloved, not ignored.

However, this issue is not a one way street. It is always tough when a team leaves to go somewhere else, no matter how many or how few fans there are. I experienced this turmoil first hand when the Pittsburgh Penguins were very close to leaving this past decade. Not many cared then, but I would have been crushed to see a team that I grew up with bail to go somewhere else.

So as you can see, it isn’t an easy decision choosing whether a team stays or goes. People are going to be hurt no matter what happens. I’m curious to see where you guys stand on the issue of teams relocating. What do you think?